III

Not much to say for the author's note. The names in this story are taken from the book "Witch Child" by Celia Rees, the names alone. The characters are not the same, but I was at a loss for names that were popular in that time. Deborah Vane is the antagonist in Rees's story, but I assure you, Deborah is no antagonist in this story. As of right now, Deborah Vane is the only name taken from the book.

I lost this chapter once. I started to cry… so here it is, re-written, for the second time. I seriously began to cry… but maybe it was meant to be.

Happy Ostara to all the wiccans out there!

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I stepped out into the moonlight and closed the door behind me. The snowstorm had stopped, and the sky was a clear navy blue, and the moon was full. Snowbirds darted from the trees and the wind blew softly, turning our footprints from the day into a winding path, bordered by snow dunes that looked like sugar. I wrapped my shawl tightly around me and began to walk toward town.

The wheel had turned to Imbolc, or Candlemas as many a witch has called it. The full moon and holiday had proved a perfect time to draw down the moon, and feel the Goddess's light and spirit merge with mine. But my own forest was not open enough to the moonlight as town was, so I needed to make my way there, dancing through pools of silver moonlight that shone through the bare trees.

I reached town, and was very cautious. Whenever I snuck into town at night I made sure that I stayed hidden and wore my darkest of clothes and shawls, so that I could easily be mistaken for the shadows. I ducked in and out of the shadows of houses and barns, careful to watch for ice patches along the way. The wind seemed to push me on, and kept me company as I made my way for the abandoned field where I was to do ritual. I ducked into the shadow of the barn that the town used for a storehouse, when suddenly I felt a strong force push me against the wall.

I gasped for breath. Winded by my gasp of fright and the blow to the side of the barn, I wheezed and choked, stifling myself as much as I could. I raised my head to realize a man was my attacker, slightly taller than I. A few moments passed, and he loosened his grip on me. He then spoke in a deep voice, but I could tell he wasn't much older than I was either.

"What in God's name are you doing out here child? Do you have any idea what the consequences would be if you were caught out here? Where are you headed so late?" I pushed myself up against his hold, trying to break away, but he was too strong for me. I maintained my force against him, for dignity's sake.

"I-I was just stepping out for some air, I wasn't feeling well and I didn't wish to make my family ill, sir, if you don't mind," I said, somewhat indignantly. I resented him for talking down to me, calling me a "child" when clearly he was of no status, nor identification to be called "man." He let me go, and I stood straight to collect myself. I realized now that he truly was not much taller than me, only two or three inches, but far stronger still.

"A girl has to be careful wandering a town at night, one might think she's up to something," the stranger implied. He looked at me with a quizzical eye, and I stared right back, secretly daring him to call me a witch. I stepped out into the light and crossed my arms.

"Oh does she? Well Master…."

"Compton, Adrian Compton…"

"Well Master Compton, can I ask why I've never heard hide nor hair of you? And now I suddenly find you wandering the town yourself, at the same hour, so what can you accuse me of that you don't immediately admit yourself as well?" I smirked him, and the look on his face definitely granted me intelligence.

"Well, child, you startled me, and by instinct, and being a stranger to this town, I stopped you, merely because you caught me off guard. I realize that how I greeted you was startling to you as well, I'm sorry. I've just moved here, into Goody Thompson's house." I looked at him, and frowned. He was still condescending, and I knew there was little or no age difference between us.

"Well, that still doesn't explain your midnight stroll," I stated. "And if the townsfolk saw me, I would find a way out of severe punishment, never mind the fact that I know well how to keep hidden; you are my first captor; but the townsfolk don't know you! Aside from Goody Thompson, you're a stranger here, you'd be hanged for anything they could think up!"

"I'd rather be hanged for a reason they can't pinpoint rather than wander this town in daylight. I would rather get used to this town by night, and walk it through unseen, than stroll through, unknown during the day, a stranger among familiar folk, and have all kinds of rumors soar about me. A stranger walking the streets, then wandering into a lonely widow's home, more suspicious in my opinion," he explained. "No, I would also rather not have people scolding me for not going to church on a Sunday, and moving and working on the Sabbath. Tomorrow I will tell people I am moving in, and intend to settle here."

I didn't bother asking where he was from. It was always the same. Any tiny protestant town in England, wiped out by Mars only knows what, leaving from any little port they could find, then they make their way here from Plymouth, Salem, Boston, Beluah and elsewhere. My family was from Warwickshire, a small town in England that no one had ever heard of, it was wiped clean, and no one was left. Everyone scattered. When I reached port with my family, no one there had heard of it, and that was the end of that. I was such a little girl, and my brother had not been born yet. My brother was born in America, but in Salem, our first American home.

For some reason, I understood Master Compton's reasons for sneaking around at night, as suspicious as they were, but it annoyed me to be referred to as a child.

"How old are you, Master Compton?" My curiosity had won out. He smiled.

"Seventeen, Miss…"

"Vane, Deborah Vane," I nearly laughed as I spoke, but caught myself. "And I knew it, you are a mere year older than me, if that," I exclaimed.

"Your point is, Miss Vane?" He looked puzzled.

"You shouldn't call me child," I said. "You aren't more than a child yourself if you intend to call me one."

"My mistake," he said, looking slightly embarrassed. "You look so young, I thought you couldn't be more than eleven or twelve." I couldn't believe he was saying this, with such little height difference between us, but I accepted it.

"Well now you know, Master Compton,"

"Adrian, if you please," he gave a coy smile that I found almost pathetic, and sickening.

"Alright Adrian," I sighed. "I-" sooner than I could speak, Adrian's eyes widened and pulled me into the shadow of the barn, and pushed me against the wall again. Instead of pinning me, though, he stood next to me, and willed me to hush. I was taken aback by his gesture, and didn't realize that he had pulled me out of the sights of a nearby household, which had a dim candlelight flickering in the window. I inhaled sharply and suddenly felt very nervous. If I was caught outside, at night, with a man, the conclusions and consequences would be too much for me to handle. I didn't dare breathe.

We stood there for awhile, which seemed like an eternity, before the candlelight flickered out. I let out a silent sigh, only to hear Adrian do the same. I looked around, and then whirled on the boy in my company.

"Don't you ever frighten me like that again! That's twice tonight you bound me against my will, and twice I had the wind knocked out of me! Do it again, and I shall have to hurt you Master Crompt…Adrian…" I scolded in a harsh whisper.

"Well I'm sorry for saving our reputations, Miss Vane, but I didn't wish to be hauled to the gallows just yet," he protested. He was right. I owed him more gratitude than I gave him… and I despised him for it. He came up behind me and rested a hand on my shoulder. I could very well feel his heartbeat and breath down my back. It made me very uncomfortable. I turned and faced him.

"Look, Adrian, Master Compton, I care not… I have never been caught out at night before, not until tonight when you come waltzing into our town, and upon meeting you I am forced into pain, and nearly caught again! In my opinion I find you a very curious kind of character, and as far as I'm concerned you had better watch your step in this town, they tend to jump to conclusions. Believe me, I know…" I took a deep breath and turned to walk away.

"Seems to me the one jumping to conclusions is only yourself Miss Vane, but we shall see," I stopped to shake my head, and continued on my path to the forest, and completely forgot what I had set out to do in the first place. I walked a ways and turned back, only to see where we had conversed to be deserted, and I continued quietly on.

I realized, back into the woods, that I was able to make my way with little or no aid of the moon. It was getting lighter, I had to hurry back so my parents wouldn't find me absent from my bed. I reached home at a brisk walk, opened the door, and climbed the steps quietly to my little attic chamber, just above the rest of the house. I figured I had about 2 hours to rest until my parents arose. I drifted into an uneasy sleep, thoughts swimming about the man, or boy, I just encountered.

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A/N: it is now 11:50 pm on Monday Night. IM GOING TO SLEEP NOW. Damn you Microsoft for deleting my first copy… but I will get my revenge… reveeeeeeeeeeeeeeennnnnnnge…

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